Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull


Profile Iceland Gull
[order] Charadriiformes |

[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Laridae | [latin] Larus glaucoides | [UK] Iceland Gull | [FR] Goéland arctique | [DE] Polarmöwe | [ES] Gaviota groenlandesa | [IT] Gabbiano islandico | [NL] Kleine Burgemeester

Kleine Burgemeester determination

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Size range falls short of Glaucous Gull but overlaps with Herring Gull. Fairly large, long-winged, and rather slender gull, with plumage colours and pattern as Glaucous Gull but with structural differences distinct in (1) shorter, less heavy, and more pointed bill, combining with more domed crown and rounded nape to give gentle outline and expression to head and face, (2) more oval-shaped body, (3) longer and narrower wings, particularly obvious when folded and then extending well past tail, and (4) shorter legs. Eye appears darker and larger than in Glaucous Gull. Bill less than half length of head, lacking stoutness or marked hook but coloured as Glaucous Gull. Legs leaden-pink, colder in tone than Glaucous Gull. Juvenile and first winter have more uniform appearance than Glaucous Gull, due to finer and more even pattern of markings and less-bold contrasting bill colour.

Breeds on low- to high-arctic rocky coasts, mainly in fjords and sounds well in from open ocean; occasionally on low skerries, detached stacks or low cliffs, but normally only on steep high cliffs at c. 100-200 m. After breeding season disperses, but mostly remains in similar habitat throughout year though some become accustomed to foraging near man, even in harbours; rarely at coast in western Greenland in summer.

Larus glaucoides breeds in southern and western Greenland, which is now thought to
constitute >50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is
relatively small (

Mainly fish, but also carrion, offal, and eggs and young of other birds, especially Kittiwake. Takes food from surface and by plunge-diving in shallow inshore waters rather in manner of tern; in autumn feeds additionally on berries.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 190,000-400,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

In western Greenland, eggs laid mid-May to mid-June. Nest site is generally a flat ledge on sea-cliff, or on rocks among thick vegetation on sloping scree. On Novaya Zemlya, one nest c. 2 m from cliff-top and 16-18 m above water. Nest is as of Glaucous Gull but smaller, lined with grass and moss. Clutch is 2-3 incubation lasts for 28-30 days. Fledging from 40 to 45 days.

Migratory to dispersive in different regions. Movements of Novaya Zemlya population unknown. Nominate glaucoides (breeds Greenland) resident to dispersive (principally immatures) in western Greenland, moving north (some reaching high Arctic) and south along coast, irregularly to Canadian and north-east USA coasts and north-east Atlantic; in eastern Greenland migratory, probably wintering in northern Iceland and regular visitor to north-west Europe, some young birds remaining through summer. Race kumlieni (breeds Arctic Canada) winters on Atlantic coast of North America from Labrador to Long Island and occasionally further south, with small numbers to Great Lakes and Hudson Bay; strays to Iceland and Faeroes, more recently to Britain and Ireland. Race thayeri (breeds arctic Canada and north-west Greenland) winters on west coast of North America south to California, a few also mid-west and on Atlantic coast as far south as Florida and Texas. In western Greenland moves to coast from breeding fjords in August, dispersing widely September-November. Emigration from eastern Greenland continues into November; adults return to breeding areas late April and early May but immatures remain in flocks on coast during summer.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 123 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 139 cm
  4. size min.: 52 cm
  5. size max.: 60 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 28 days
  8. incubation max.: 30 days
  9. fledging min.: 40 days
  10. fledging max.: 45 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 2
  13. eggs max.: 3
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Kleine Burgemeester status Least Concern


  1. Larus glaucoides glaucoides
  2. s and w Greenland, Novaya Zemlya
  3. Larus glaucoides kumlieni
  4. ne Canada
  5. Larus glaucoides
  6. NA, EU n AO coast
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